Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Philippine Adventures..Chapter 1: Puerto Galera

I'm going to start from the end. The last song karaoked in our hotel, belting "Colors of the Wind" from Pocahontas. Yup, that happened.

For all of you who don't know much about the Filipino culture, you need to understand their love for karaoke. They love to sing. You haven't had a true Filipino experience until you've rented out a private karaoke room with your friends, ordered several rounds of San Miguel's and taken turns belting out your favorite songs at the very top of your lungs.
Just trying to fit in with the locals and their favorite hobby

Zero fun I tell ya. No fun at all.
It may or may not be a building requirement to have capabilities of playing video karaoke in whatever public establishment you build here. 

Back to the story.
Sunday night. We just got back from an excellent seafood dinner (2nd night in a row, it was that good) $15 dollars a person for a feast, tables on the beach, feet in the sand and the ocean mere yards away.

We had been trying to leave all day, the plan originally was to catch the 3:30 Sunday afternoon fairy back to Manila, but our family breakfast took several hours (one of our absolute favorite parts of our days..complete with some of the best brewed coffee I've ever had). Post breakfast, we piled in the back of a van type vehicle to take us 45 minutes to the Tamara waterfalls. That was the itinerary for the day.
Family breakfast. Things happen at this table.
Once we got to the falls, the 3:30 departure time became a very unrealistic goal and distant memory very quickly.
'What number cliff is this that I'm jumping off for the weekend?' -common thoughts running through my head

One of the activities at the falls was jumping off a cliff. A local lifeguard showed me the way to climb it and assisted me through the steps to safely complete the jump. After I cannon balled into the lagoon, I was chatting with him, and he mentioned there was yet another, better, waterfall another 45 minutes further. A common theme I am coming across here: just when you think it can't get better, it does. Magical.

I am a sucker for waterfalls, so I was automatically already hooked. But then, the words, "you ride water buffalo to the falls, cross 6 rivers" came out of his mouth.

Water buffalo? Never have I seen one of those but it suddenly got added to my bucket list of things to do in life. Ride a water buffalo. Ok, yea, let's do that, why not.
Not a bad view on the way to the Tamaraw Waterfalls
So after a quick family discussion in the kiddie pool, we were piling back in our van; with our new Filipino tour guide in tow; off to conquer water buffaloes and more waterfalls.

After another 45 minute drive we had arrived at the Mindanao waterfalls. And before we knew it, were climbing in carts that were hooked up to a very giant water buffalo. One named Charlie and the other slightly smaller one, named Angelo the Buffalo. We trekked, quite bumpily, across 6 rivers and a palm tree jungle, to the most beautiful waterfall I've ever seen.
Meet Charlie and Angelo the Buffalo. Charlie likes to stop and take really big poops in the water (thank goodness for the courtesy flap), and Angelo just does it while still walking.. show off or rude? I can't decide. 
The next few hours consisted of climbing up rocks from water fall to water fall, making more slow motion cliff jumping videos and getting water massages from the falls. 
What did you do with your life today?
Scaled rocks and rode water buffalos..no big deal.
As if the massages aren't cheap enough in the Philippines as it is, nature gives the best one I've ever had..for free! Another classic example of one up ing.
After we laughed, swam, climbed and laughed a whole lot more we began the journey back. But not before stopping at the souvenir shop and purchasing some gifts to thank our very helpful local Filipino guides that assisted us in navigating the rocks and climbs. They were extremely helpful even though they were tiny little girls who I am sure any of us could have easily crushed if we took a tumble, but the helping hand was much appreciated none the less, and we were happy to pay it forward by contributing to their income at their little store.

After one last water buffalo ride, we climbed in our van, dropped off Bart, our Filipino guide who made our day infinitely better by showing us this new found destination, and headed back to our hotel. 

We could've left then but one more dinner was in need of course because we just were not ready to leave. We decided upon the same restaurant as the night before and ended the night perfectly. 
Giving thanks for our weekend and our friendships. I love these humans.
We loved Puerto Galera so much we all decided to buy souvenir t-shirts, which is really saying something because when do I ever buy tourist tees? This will be my first. We're in love, we're in love and we don't care who knows it! 
Sarah Mclaughlin, Celine Dion, Ms. Barack Obama, Pocohantas, Buttman, Mariah Carey, Miley Cyrus and Mrs. George Washington Bush, all in character with our tourist tees

Finally we had to tear ourselves away from the dinner, depression of going back to reality was getting more and more real. 

When we got back to the hotel to pack up our things we ran into a friend we had made that weekend who was also staying at the hotel, Ms. Santorini, a very nice Filipino woman who was ready to give us the world including a chartered boat ride back to Manila. 

"You guys have been trying to leave since I saw you this morning!" She said in disbelief. 

And she was very right haha, it was 10 pm and we still didn't look like we were going anywhere any time soon.

She then proceeded to tell us she was about to do karaoke and for us to join, ahhhh how can we leave with an offer like that!? But we had to kindly turn her down, it was time. 

A few of us went to the bathroom in the hotel lobby and as we were coming out there was a door straight across that had, low and behold, a videoke machine hooked up, turned on and calling our names.

We sprinted in quickly like we were little children trying to get away from our parents and started to flip through the book. One thing led to another and we were singing song after song. Ms. Santorini ended up finding us, she probably followed the angelic voices that were being carried through the hallways..joke. haha

Once again we successfully found a distraction to keep us in Puerto Galera just a little bit longer, darn. Finally we decided to be responsible and pick one last song, and we picked the perfect one. "Colors of the Wind". We passed around the microphone verse to verse and sang with every part of our being as the words couldn't be more fitting:

How high will the sycamore grow?
If you cut it down, then you'll never know
And you'll never hear the wolf cry to the blue corn moon

For whether we are white or copper skinned
We need to sing with all the voices of the mountains
We need to paint with all the colors of the wind

You can own the Earth and still
All you'll own is Earth until
You can paint with all the colors of the wind

And the videoke machine agreed, giving us a score of 96. That's nearly perfect, just like our weekend. We could now leave.

The view standing from our hotel door, now do you know why we didn't want to leave?

So many things happened this weekend that I don't even have the words to explain...commence picture story time: 
1st Jeepnie Ride! And we had it all to ourselves! How do we get this back to America?
Pre Zipline jitters
Thank you slow motion iPhone setting for improving my quality of life this weekend

Post Zipline excitment, can we do it again? And again?
Who knew tires had some many functions, walking in the sky

Little Mermaid, Part of Your World..it was a disney song singing themed kind of weekend
Dancing on the beach with fire, setting the standards for the rest of life pretty high over here

Private party boat to ourselves on day 1 where we snorkeled then went to an underwater cave and ate our first sea urchin!! 
Me trying to warm up to Charlie, Kaylee trying to warm up to me
Just some Coloradoans hiking the jungle

And this is how we all described the weekend in 160 characters or less because after all we are in the #socialmediacapitaloftheworld:

The Philippines might be the best place on earth. #nowbacktowork #RCColaRaiders

FACT: It is more fun in the Philippines! #partyboat #puertogalera

Haven't showered in 3 days except for in waterfalls #problemsidonthate #puertogalera

Took a water buffalo ride to a waterfall today, there's something I never thought I'd say. #itsbetterinthephilippines

This happened today. Fair to say Filipino islands have some wonderful places..

Gotta stay hydrated when in the jungle, ya know? #howisthisreallife #itsmorefuninthephilippines

Had the best weekend ever!!

I just realized how beautiful our country is. Thank you Lord!! #itsmorefuninthephilippines

600 m zipline through the mountains!! #scaredofheights #ibelieveicanfly #puertogalera #secretlang

Puerto Galera, we just can't seem to leave you!!! #toomanyadventures

So THISSSS is the Philippines. Never leaving. #besthoneymoonever

#itsmorefuninthephilippines #tukuranfalls #puertogalera

Never been happier? Too much? #inlovewiththeworldanditspeople

Best weekend of my professional career. #PuertoGalera #thatfilipinolife #neverleaving

And there you have it.

Thank you Puerto Galera for an experience beyond words; we all loved your nature, your food, your adventures.


  1. Glad you're enjoying your stay here! Too much fun right there :)

  2. I can feel the exhilaration and happiness in your blogs. Thanks for writing from the heart. Enjoy life's adventures! Thanks for making the Philippines a part of it.

  3. such a great storyteller! the supreme you had over the weekend jumps out of your blog!

    btw, before you guys go, you should make davao city and palawan a part of your adventure filled itinerary. tons of fun to be had over yonder!


  4. it warms my heart to read your excitement and happiness over your wonderful weekend experience! ang galing mo! :)